Plant-Based Burger Patties Trend More in Restaurants

Ana Martinez, Design Editor

In recent years, America has witnessed a rise in the consumption of plant-based meat products, made available by brands such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. In light of this new trend, restaurants, grocery stores and popular food chains such as Burger King, Carl’s Jr., Qdoba, Subway, Del Taco and, most recently, KFC have made plant-based meat alternatives available for purchase, offering people a glimpse into a different kind of future for meat. 

Despite the increase in plant-based meat products in multiple restaurants and food chains, few Americans stick to a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. A recent poll conducted by Gallup found that less than 10% of Americans adhere to a vegan or vegetarian diet, with 5% identifying as vegetarian and 3% as vegan. Some people choose to go vegan for health and nutrition purposes, environmental protection, morality or a combination of these factors. 

“The change [to veganism] wasn’t that hard,” vegan and sophomore at Miami Palmetto Senior High School Angelina Astic said. “I started to enjoy eating more and felt a lot cleaner and healthier than I ever had. I don’t eat a lot of processed foods, and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

The trend of reducing one’s meat intake has allowed  some plant-based meat franchises like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods to become multi-million and billion-dollar companies. Beyond Meat officially launched their franchise in May, selling each stock for $25. The stock price has since increased by more than six times, now selling for $169 a share, making the market income of the company more than $10 billion. Additionally, Impossible Foods raised $300 million in investor funding while waiting to go public. 

As plant-based industries grow, the companies have the potential to overturn the meat production process. As of this year, the six largest meat companies in the U.S. represented $60B in market income, according to CBS Insight’s Industry Analysis Consensus. On the other hand, plant-based meat franchises like Beyond Meat went public at a valuation of almost $1.5B. 

Brands like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have shaken the plant-based meat industry by creating a plant-based burger that tastes more like beef than a traditional veggie burger. To mimic the taste and texture of red meat, both companies’ burgers use a mix of plant-based proteins, oils and other ingredients. 

Ingredients such as sodium and saturated fats are roughly the same in plant-based and traditional beef burgers. However, despite being plant-based, the new meat alternatives may not be as healthy as a veggie burger. 

“I have tried a few different plant-based burgers,” Astic said. “I actually tried the impossible burger the day it came to restaurants and I was extremely impressed with the taste and similarity [to] red meat.”

The taste of the burger has caused many popular franchises and restaurants to collaborate with these plant-based meat companies. Recently, Impossible Foods announced partnerships with popular restaurant chains, including Burger King, Qdoba and dozens of other companies. 

The partnership has brought success to companies like Burger King. In fact, Burger King’s U.S. same-store sales grew by 10%, partly due to the launching of the burger, according to Restaurant Brands (QSR). Now, Burger King may soon release three new impossible burger variations, including the Impossible Whopper Jr., the Impossible Burger and the Impossible Cheeseburger. 

Beyond Meat began selling a plant-based version of fried chicken at restaurants such as Del Taco, Subway and, most recently, KFC. 

“If given a choice, sometimes people are going to choose a vegetarian option,” AP Environmental Science teacher at Miami Palmetto Senior High School Pamela Schlactman, said. “If you have a business and have more vegetarian options and you have vegetarian customers you’re going to increase your client base. Overall, I think giving people choices is a good idea.”

Companies such as McDonald’s still do not offer plant-based alternatives for their products. However, the inclusion of plant-based meat in popular restaurant chains as well as in restaurants and grocery stores marks the beginning of a new future for the meat industry as a whole. 

“Go for [reducing your meat intake], and don’t be ashamed,” environmental activist and senior at Miami Palmetto Senior High School Nicole Gazo said. “At the end of the day, even doing a meatless Monday really does make a difference, [especially] if you get your peers to follow in your footsteps. Being open-minded [to these options] are better than being closed off and living under a rock.”